Understanding DUI Charges in Colorado: When a Misdemeanor Turns into a Felony
In Colorado, a DUI is generally considered a misdemeanor. However, it can escalate to a Class 4 felony under certain circumstances. This typically happens if the violation occurs after three or more prior convictions for DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI; vehicular homicide, as described in section 18-3-106 (1) (b), C.R.S.; vehicular assault, and so on.
A felony DUI is the worst offense you can be charged with, and a conviction comes with harsh penalties and consequences.
If you believe you may be facing a felony DUI charge, contact The Ferrell Law Firm, PLLC, to get started on your defense.
Felony DUI Colorado
All DUI convictions have detrimental consequences, including a tarnished record and reputation. It could cost you your relationships, career, and more.
A felony DUI conviction will potentially put you behind bars and negatively impact your life for years.
In Colorado, driving under the influence becomes a felony under three different circumstances.
- If, while driving drunk, you seriously injure another person;
- If, while driving drunk, you kill another person; or
- If you have three prior DUI convictions on your record.
Let’s take a closer look.
DUI with an Injury
Under Colorado law, drunk or drugged driving is a class 4 felony offense if it causes another person to suffer “serious bodily injuries.”
Concerning a DUI offense, “serious bodily injury” includes:
- Broken bones or fractures,
- Loss of impairment of a body function,
- Second or third-degree burns,
- Permanent disfigurement, and
Generally, a minor bump, bruise, cut, or scrape will not be considered a “serious bodily injury.”
You can be charged with felony DUI if it causes injury to someone else, regardless of prior convictions.
In other words, even with no prior DUI convictions, you can still face a felony DUI in Colorado.
Felony DUI Resulting in Death
Under Colorado law, if you cause someone’s death because you were driving while impaired, you can be charged with a class 3 felony regardless of whether you have any prior convictions or not.
This is often referred to as vehicular homicide and carries the steepest penalties.
A fourth DUI or “strike” will lead to felony-level charges. A fourth DUI or DWAI would be a class 4 felony, even without an accident or injury.
Importantly, it does not matter where or when those convictions occurred—they can still count against you.
In other words, if you got a DUI a long time ago in another state, it can still count against you for purposes of enhancing a current charge.
Felony DUI Penalties
The penalties for felony DUI convictions can vary depending on the charge and circumstances.
Fourth DUI Conviction
A fourth-time DUI is a class 4 felony punishable by:
- Two to six years in prison with three years mandatory parole;
- A fine of $2,000 to $500,000;
- Community service; and
- Level II alcohol and drug education course.
The potential punishment is generally the same for a DUI with a serious injury conviction because it is also a class 4 felony offense.
DUI Causing Death
A conviction for vehicular homicide or a DUI causing death is a Class 3 felony punishable by:
- Four to 12 years in prison with five-year mandatory parole; and
- A fine of $3,000 to $750,000.
A felony DUI conviction can irreparably change your life. Speaking with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible is one of the best ways to help yourself.
Colorado DUI Attorneys
Is a DUI a felony in Colorado? If you were arrested and charged with DUI, this question has likely crossed your mind. For help with any level DUI, contact the knowledgeable lawyers at The Ferrell Law Firm, PLLC, for a free and confidential consultation.